It says a lot about a person when the recognition from his colleagues means as much as the financial windfall that comes with a prestigious award like the Phil Walsh Memorial Scholarship.

That’s the case for GIANTS Development Coach Damian Truslove, a quietly spoken but integral part of the GIANTS coaching staff and wider football department. 

Truslove, who’s entering his third season at the club, was recently named the 2019 recipient of the award created by the AFL Coaches Association in 2015 to honour the career of Adelaide coach Phil Walsh who was killed in 2015.

Head Coach Leon Cameron recently called the entire playing group into a tight huddle following a training session to announced Truslove’s award.

“It was unexpected that Leon was going to announce it to the playing group,” Truslove said.

“But it was at that point that I reflected on the relationships I’ve built here and that was one of the best parts about winning this award was that moment right then, it was very pleasing.”

The scholarship is awarded to an assistant or development coach to undertake travel to study elite standards in other sports. 

“It’s an honour to win such an award, obviously it’s named after a coach who had a lot of professional development along the journey and was very driven," Truslove said.

“I like to think I’m similar in that mould and to win an award that’s available to all coaches, is really pleasing.” 

Truslove said he will use the $10,000 grant to further his development in the United Kingdom at the end of the 2019 season.

It will be another learning opportunity for the 45-year-old who has recently started a sports psychology course.

“I’ve done a performance analysis course through Queensland University, I finished that last year,” he said. 

“Then I’m just looking for any seminars or opportunities to keep on developing.


“We went to the United States recently as a coaching group on a professional development trip which was great, and I’m looking – with this scholarship – to go to England later in the year and visit some soccer clubs and academies to keep growing my knowledge in the development space.”

Truslove joined the GIANTS at end of 2016 after spending four seasons in development roles in both Carlton and Richmond’s VFL programs. 

He said being around an experienced coaching panel at the GIANTS led by Director of Coaching Alan McConnell and Head Coach Leon Cameron had also assisted in his development.

“I think just being around experienced coaches who played a lot of AFL footy and then just building stronger and stronger relationships with the players has helped my development as a coach,” he said.

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“I just started a sport psychology course which I’m sinking my teeth into at the moment. I’m always looking for more opportunities to develop as I go along. 

“My journey at the GIANTS has been fantastic because they’ve been encouraging professional development all the time.”

Truslove is the fourth recipient of the scholarship, following Richmond assistant Ben Rutten in 2016, West Coast assistant Adrian Hickmott in 2017 and Port Adelaide development coach Aaron Greaves in 2018.